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chicklit's avatar

How can states make it so that the involvement of women in government increases?

Asked by chicklit (212 points ) February 3rd, 2012

Various countries in Africa (and all over the world, for that matter) have quotas and reserved seats for women, but they fail (or ignore, maybe?) to meet them. Women’s involvement in politics has increased through the decades, but it is not to where it could be. What would it take for these numbers to grow. I believe quotas are a great way to start involvement, but a real change in the social fabric of society would have to take place before this increase happens. What are everyone’s thoughts? What else can be done?

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16 Answers

King_Pariah's avatar

I’ve been toying around with the idea of having instead of party representatives, minority/group representatives. I think it’d be a decent way to get women in more so however representation via minorities/groups could become easily overwhelming, confusing to say the least.

jerv's avatar

Affirmative action and quotas are basically reverse discrimination. I know of plenty of women that have run for political office and won; the only thing barring them is that they are less likely to put their name on the ballot. So, if you want more women in office, get more women to run for office.

Now, if you support quotas, then you are saying that women cannot get the job on their own (a blatant falsehood, with plenty of precedent to contradict that) and will actually set the women’s movement back at least 50 years. You are also saying that I am part of what is wrong with America solely because I have a penis and thus opening yourself up to a host of problems, including backlash, legal conflict, and just plain old headaches.

Aethelflaed's avatar

What can be done depends almost entirely on the exact social, economic, and political structure of the community involved. I don’t really know enough about various African communities to be able to answer that at all (though, you might be interested in watching Pray the Devil Back to Hell, a documentary about the women’s lib movement in Liberia). However, here in the US, one such tool is EMILY’s List, a PAC dedicated to helping pro-choice women get elected to office.

chicklit's avatar

@jerv I am confused about your response. I never said that women are not capable of “getting a job on their own” (I did not imply it, either), and I did not try to say that males are to blame (either implicitly or explicitly). My question stems from my the actual number of women in politics: I recognize that women are largely underrepresented in government, and that, because of this, quotas are implemented. But these numbers aren’t even met! So yes, women aren’t running. They are less likely to run for office; you are right. And I agree with you; more women SHOULD run for office. What I meant by “change in social fabric” was simply that we need to get more people used to the idea of women in politics. They are absent in the field, and some people may perceive it as a “man’s job” because of this same absence. I think that once quotas are filled (and even ovefilled) and people get used to the idea of women in government, they can be removed, because there would no longer be a need for them.

rooeytoo's avatar

I completely agree with @jerv, I find quotas discriminatory in any way shape or form. I want equality for all women and in order to achieve that, women must succeed on the same playing field as everyone else. The same goes for blacks or any group you want to insert.

What needs to be done, imho, to induce women to enter all fields, is to stop hammering on the differences between females and males. Stop indoctrinating them from conception (pink and blue) that they are different. Let them choose the toys they want to play with instead of buying them lavender fairy costumes. Teach them motherhood is a career and an honorable one, not something you squeeze in between other careers. And if you choose a career to pursue in conjunction with motherhood, don’t expect taxpayers or your employer to fund your maternity leave.

In other words, stop teaching women to look for special treatment, instead insist on equality, real equality. When that happens women will realize their worth and the numbers will increase without any quota needed.

marinelife's avatar

Women’s role in government is increasing naturally.

zenvelo's avatar

@chicklit Where I live there are plenty of women in elected positions and in hired positions in government. Both my US Senators, my last Representative before my current one, the Representative in the next district over, and another 30 miles away, the local State Senator, and the State Assembly member, all are women.

If there is a lack of women in your area, then encourage women to run. There are cultural differences in different states that discourage women from participating.

Politics is local, and most politicians start by getting involved at the local level through their party local committees, the town council, the school board, the county supervisors. Get involved with EMILY’s list (if you like their politics) or the Tea Party, or the Greens.

And don’t assume that all women have the same perspective. There are quite a few women around here that are actively involved in the Tea Party.

KatawaGrey's avatar

The problem isn’t the state, it’s people’s ideas about women. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve heard from men here in the US that if a woman was President, she’d want to go to war a week out of every month. A good portion of them are serious. They actually think that a woman on her period is incapable of rational thought. Admittedly, what confuses me most about these statements and “jokes” is that a woman elected would most likely be in her fifties or sixties and thus post-menopausal, but that’s a whole other discussion.

In other countries where the sex/gender divide is even greater, I can’t imagine how people think a woman in office would do. The state can’t necessarily do anything. It’s the attitudes of the people doing the voting that matter. Now I’m off to search for some relative links, I shall return.

mattbrowne's avatar

The Girls Day concept is quite successful in Germany, see

http://www.girls-day.de/Girls_Day_Info/English_Information

So government officials should invest one day per year and invite groups of teenage girls and show them how governments and lawmaking works. Encourage the girls to ask as many questions as possible.

Many companies are doing this already. Official cool Youtube videos created during the events do have an additional effect, because all the girls will post the videos on their Facebook pages thereby spreading the word. Here’s an example of a highly effective professional video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbz6bUeaXHI

It also helps boost the image of these companies. I think politicians could copy this approach.

It would be more effective long term than quotas in my opinion.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think society should stop intensifying the divide by having girls days and boys days, that is the same as a quota. If you want to involve people, have a people’s day.

zenvelo's avatar

We have kids day at work. The company never sanctioned or encouraged Bring your daughter to Work day, but when some local schools closed on that day, some people had to bring their sons to work.

mattbrowne's avatar

@zenvelo – Does kids day at work include politicians at work?

KatawaGrey's avatar

Well, I can’t find a link to the exact story I’m looking for so you all don’t dismiss what I have to say out of hand because of a lack of internet evidence.

In college, I minored in women’s studies and one of the issues we discussed the most were the rights of women in Muslim countries. There are a number of universities in the Muslim world that have banned headscarves. This might seem like an awesome feminist move, but it resulted in a number of women being banned from their universities and were even denied diplomas at graduations because they didn’t want to take off the headscarf. In one of my classes, we watched a documentary about this subject and one woman gave a number of interviews. I don’t remember her name, but I believe she was a member of the Syrian government. She wears the headscarf. She doesn’t think anyone else should if they don’t want to. She just chooses to. She was ousted from her political position because of this. There is no other reason why she was ousted. There was just an uproar because a woman with a headscarf was holding office.

Once people stop focusing on the fact that there are women who want to hold political positions, then I believe more women will be elected to office. The trick is not to think of them as “female politicians” but as “politicians.”

zenvelo's avatar

@mattbrowne Most politicians are not as behaved as the kids, so they don’t get to come to work.

laureth's avatar

I’m a woman, and I vote, so I think I’m qualified to speak here. But I vote based on issues, and what I think is best, not the gender of the candidate. I can probably think of a million men I’d rather have in office, for example, than Sarah Palin. Even though she’s a woman, I don’t think her equipment causes her to have my best interests at heart.

Also, back in about 1972, Democrats did try a quota system (Link) in order to make exactingly sure that women and minorities were represented in government to the percentages they existed in the population at large. This concentration on dotting Is and crossing Ts, as opposed to issues, was a sign that the Democratic party had jumped the shark for years to come. It took them a while to get out of the wilderness; I’m not sure we should head back that way.

jerv's avatar

I can think of houseplants I would rather have than Sarah Palin. but if we institute quotas even temporarily then we will get people like her and Bachmann in solely because they have a uterus.

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